Britain · Luxembourg · Sweden

Designer Diaries – Elie Saab and His Royal Clientele

I think working in fashion was more my destiny than anything else.

Elie Saab

His is an amazing story. Elie Saab is primarily a self-taught fashion designer. He was raised one of five children in Damour, a suburb of Beirut. From his youth, he was obsessed with glamour and fashion. He rooted through his mother’s cast-off clothes for material and pressed his sisters in duty as his models. He studied fashion for a year in Paris, but, impatient to begin his career, he dropped out after a year, returned to Beirut, and began designing.

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By 1998 he was based in Milan and had established his own ready-to-wear line. His big breakout was dressing Halle Berry for her 2002 Oscar appearance (and win!). Almost anyone who follows fashion can identify the hallmarks of a Saab design. Glamour. Luxe fabrics. Most important, embellishments. Lots of embellishments. They aren’t called crusty Saabs for nothing!


The Swedish sisters have reached for Saab for various wedding celebrations and related events. In fact, some of their best appearances have been in the classic neutral crusty Saab.

In a grade A appearance, the Crown Princess appeared at her pre-wedding dinner wearing a blush one-shoulder Saab with a fully embellished bodice and skirt. She has also posed in one of her tenth-anniversary official photos wearing it and showcasing the incredible detail work.

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For her own pre-wedding dinner, Princess Madeleine wore a silver metallic Saab (one also worn by her older sister). the gown featured a high neckline, slim skirt, and silver/crystal embellishments.

In the bravest Saab appearance, Madeleine (a mere 36 hours from giving birth to her son, Nicolas) wore a flowing pink Saab number to her brother’s 2015 wedding. Points to the wearer for both posture and composure under what might be referred to as a challenging situation.

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Queen Rania of Jordan tapped Saab to design the gown she wore to her husband’s coronation. The designer responded with a glowing gown that reflected tradition elements of Jordanian dress.

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The Duchess of Cambridge wore a modified Saab design to Ascot in 2019. the dress featured a bow neckline and an embellished tulle skirt.


The hereditary Grand Duchess has most famously worn Saab for her wedding (to be discussed next week). She has had a couple of other appearances in the designer’s fashions that make me wish she requested his services a bit more.

For the 2018 French state visit, Stephanie wore an embellished Saab mini that was both festive and youthful.

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One of my favorite formal appearances by the Duchess was the draped evening gown she wore to Princess Madeleine‚Äôs pre-wedding festivities in 2013. Not so crusty, but very elegant, right?

The devastating Beirut explosion in August 2020 severely damaged Saab’s main office and completely destroyed one of his homes nearby. He has regrouped and continued designing, donating much of the profits from his 2021 collection to the “Integrated Education and Well-Being for Vulnerable Girls in Lebanon” Program.

We have a separate post for the wedding ensembles of the Luxembourg royals scheduled for next week. Give us your favorite Saab designs – non-Luxembourg-wedding related – in the comments!